A federal judge has ordered that the convicted but arguably cleared killer of former Oregon Department of Corrections Director Michael Francke be released from prison on Friday, June 28.
Frank Gable's federal public defenders and attorneys for the Oregon Department of Justice were still arguing over all of the conditions for his release when U.S. Oregon District Court Magistrate Judge John Acosta issued his order Thursday morning. Acosta imposed only those conditions on Gable's release that the two sides had agreed on. They include that Gable will be on federal parole supervision, that he not break any laws, and that he keep the court informed of his address.
After the order was issued, Nell Brown, one of Gable's attorneys, said, "While it took too many years — a number of which were on my watch as my team, at Mr. Gable's request, took the time needed to investigate this matter exhaustively and in depth — I am overjoyed that an innocent man will finally have his freedom."
Brown also said Gable thanked those who have always believed in his innocence, including Francke's brothers Kevin and Patrick, who have set up a GoFundMe account to raise money to help with his transition out of prison.
"Mr. Gable is beyond grateful to the Francke family for their support and grieves with them the loss of Michael Francke," said Brown.
"I am pleased and relieved that Frank is finally seeing a glimmer of justice after nearly thirty years. I am, however, bitterly disappointed that the State of Oregon's Department of Justice(?) continues their appeal of Judge Acosta's ruling, when they should do the decent and humane thing and admit that an orchestra of players, for reason or reasons unknown to the public, pursued the prosecution of an innocent man in lieu of an open investigation and pursuit of those truly responsible for the murder of my brother, Mike," Patrick Francke said in an email after the order was issued.
Francke was stabbed to death outside his Salem office on Jan. 17, 1989. Gable, a petty Salem criminal, was convicted of the killing by a Marion County jury in 1991 even though no physical evidence connected him to the scene of the crime. Acosta reversed Gable's conviction on April 18, ruling that he is probably innocent and did not receive a fair trial.
Acosta ordered that Gable be either released or retried within 90 days. The justice department appeal the ruling to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and requested that it be stayed during the appeal. Gable's attorney's do not oppose the stay, but requested that Gable be released during the appeal.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons refused to credit Gable with time served for an unrelated federal firearms charge, however. Oregon U.S. Oregon District Court Judge Michael Simon then vacated the nine-year sentence, clearing the way for Gable to be released without being transferred to a federal prison.
In status reports filed last week, attorneys for Gable and the state agreed on many conditions for his release. Among other things, he would be under federal supervision, not have any contact with any witnesses in his 1991 trial, and would surrender himself to state custody if the appeal reverses Acosta's ruling.
But the state also wanted Acosta to impose additional conditions opposed by Gable's attorneys. They included requiring him to wear an electronic monitoring device and agreeing to be extradited to Oregon from Kansas, where he is expected to be living with his wife after he is released, if Gable's ruling is reversed.
"He walks out into a very different world than the one he knew when he was last out of custody in 1989. He is looking forward — not looking back. He has already mastered use of an iPad and plans to take what life offers him as he always has — with a positive outlook and a sense of humor. He hopes to spend time fishing, hiking, and enjoying his freedom," Brown said of Gable.
You can read previous Portland Tribune stories on the case at http://www.Pamplinmedia.com/FranckeMurder
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